If you own or are thinking about starting a small business, you probably need a business checking account. It’s important to keep your small business finances separate from your personal finances, in order to protect yourself and your business from certain risks, such as liability for business debts and lawsuits, or issues when you go to file your taxes.
Unfortunately, if you walk into your local bank, you’re likely to confront one or both of these realities: Business checking accounts that charge unreasonable fees and bankers that have little interest in dealing with a new, tiny business. Fortunately, there are a number of banks that do want your business and — to prove it — offer free business checking accounts that are easy to open online. After looking at dozens of options, these are our favorites. A look at some of the competition follows.
Overview: Best business checking account
- Best overall: Novo
- Best for freelancers: Lili
- Best sign-up bonus: Chase Business Complete Banking®
- Best for venture-funded startups: Mercury
Novo: Best overall
- Monthly fees: None
- APY: None
- Minimum balance/deposit requirement: None
- Unique features:
- Integrated invoicing tool that includes recurring payments (unlimited and free)
- Free ACH transfers and incoming wire transfers
- Unlimited, fee-free transactions (within the U.S.)
- ATM access (including reimbursements on ATMs around the world up to $7/month)
- Integration with top business tools, including Square, Stripe, QuickBooks, etc.
Novo is an online business platform geared towards small business owners, startups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. When you start your own business, you’ll quickly find that using your personal bank account can get overwhelming.
That's where Novo comes in with an easy to set up free checking account dedicated to separate business expenses.
- No monthly fees or balance requirements
- Unlimited fee-free transactions
- Smart Insights for your business
- No cash deposits (money order required)
Novo is our overall pick for best business checking account. Novo is a young, tech-focused company that is uniquely designed to save business owners time and money. Novo will serve most small business owners well, but it is an online-only bank; if you deal with cash or need access to a local brick-and-mortar branch, look elsewhere.
Novo’s tech focus makes integrating frequently-used business apps — including Square, Stripe, QuickBooks, Shopify, eBay, Amazon, Zapier, etc. — a breeze. Aside from withdrawing cash, Novo ensures you can do everything through your app: transfer funds, deposit checks, send physical checks, bill pay, and more.
And, importantly, Novo doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance requirement. Some business checking accounts charge per transactions above a monthly threshold; Novo does not.
- Fee-free banking – Novo has no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirement, plus they’ll refund ATM fees (up yo $7 worth/month) and don’t charge for some transactions, including ACH transfers and incoming wire transfers (within the U.S.).
- Simple online platform – As a bank that operates exclusively online, Novo’s website and app make tasks like depositing checks and transferring funds a cakewalk.
- No cash deposits – If your business works regularly with cash, Novo won’t be an ideal fit, as they offer no option for depositing cash.
- No physical branches – Those who prefer the convenience of a local bank should consider an alternative bank, as Novo operates entirely online.
Lili: Best for freelancers
- Monthly fees: None; $15 for Lili Pro; more options
- APY: 4.15% with Lili Pro, Smart, and Premium account plans
- Minimum deposit/balance requirement: None
- Unique features:
- Tax tools to help freelancers (set aside percentage of income for quarterly tax payments, track write-offs, generate income and expense report, etc.)
- Receive a Visa® business debit card
- Free cash withdrawals from over 38,000 ATMs nationwide
- Automatic savings
- Get paid up to two days early with direct deposit
- Integration with digital wallet
- With a Lili Pro, get access to premium features and a business debit card that offers cash back for more than 14,000 merchants
Lili is an online banking solution built for the freelancer. You’ll get all the tools you need to manage your money and file taxes, as well as the debit card and ATM access you’d get with a personal bank account.
With no hidden fees or minimum balance requirements, it’s the perfect platform for the busy independent contractor.
- No hidden fees
- Automatic savings buckets
- Get your paycheck early
- Limited ATM usability on deposits
- For freelancers (and other business types) only
For freelancers, Lili is the best business checking account option, because it’s designed specifically for the unique needs of solo businesses.
One of the more complicated parts of being a freelancer is managing income and expenses. Lili gives you access to free tools to help you monitor your spending, budgeting, and tax reporting — including the ability to set money from each deposit aside for paying quarterly tax payments.
Additionally, with a Lili business checking account there are no hidden fees and an attractive bonus APY of 4.15% for relevant account holders.
- Assistance with tax accounting – A Lili business checking account comes with a variety of unique features to help customers with tax accounting in their small business, including a write-off tracker, automated tax saving, and customer support with tax documents like your Schedule C and income and expense reports.
- Opportunity to earn interest – 4.15% APY available to Lili Pro, Lili Smart, and Lili Premium account holders only.
- Not for medium-sized to large businesses – Lili is designed uniquely to serve freelancers, so it is not the ideal banking choice for medium-sized to large businesses.
- No physical location – Lili is another online-only banking institution, which means it may not be preferable to those who enjoy the convenience of a local bank.
Mercury is a financial technology company offering no-fee, scalable banking for startups and technology companies. In addition to free business checking and savings accounts, Mercury offers a credit card, treasury services for businesses with lots of cash, and venture debt funding.
Mercury offers free business checking and savings accounts with no balance requirements. An optional no-fee credit card provides 1.5% cash back and higher credit limits designed for business.
As your startup grows, Mercury also offers API access, treasury services and venture debt.
- Free business banking
- Free ACH and wire transfers
- Features to help your startup grow
- No cash deposits
- No interest on basic savings account
Mercury is a compelling banking choice for business owners who will have a lot of cash on deposit, make frequent wire transfers, or have received (or hope to receive) venture capital funding.
Mercury provides banking services, but isn’t actually a bank. Mercury is partnered with Evolve Bank & Trust and Choice Financial Group to provide business checking and savings accounts. That benefits Mercury customers who receive FDIC insurance on deposits up to $5 million ($250,000 is standard) spread across their partner banks’ sweep network of of established FDIC-insured program banks.
Eligible customers can opt to get Mercury’s IO Credit Card that pays 1.5% cash back on all spend and advertises higher credit limits to serve the needs of startups. And Mercury has treasury services for accounts of $500,000 or more, allowing And Mercury Treasury provides accounts with $500k or more the ability to protect their idle cash in a money market fund. For startups that have received VC funding, Mercury offers venture debt term loans, too.
Chase Business Complete Banking®: Best for sign-up bonus
- Monthly fees: $15 (can be waived when you meet certain criteria)
- APY: None
- Minimum balance/deposit requirements: None
- Unique features:
- Integrates with popular accounting software like QuickBooks
- Unlimited electronic deposits
- Free cash deposits (up to $5,000 per statement cycle, after which, you’ll pay a $2.50 fee each for deposits over $1,000)
- Free business debit card
- Free ATM usage (within the Chase network; $3.00 per transaction at non-network locations)
- Accept credit card payments via the Chase app and get no-fee, same-day deposits with Chase QuickAccept℠.
Chase Business Complete Banking® is a small business checking account that offers a competitive suite of benefits for business owners providing you what you need to start or grow your business and keep it going.
- Convenient physical bank access
- Wide range of additional banking services
- QuickAccept℠ payment processing feature
- Monthly fee may apply
- There's a limit to free transactions
Chase Business Complete Banking® is a business checking account that offers a competitive suite of benefits for business owners.
For starters, Chase’s mobile app allows account holders to complete a number of small business activities online, including deposit checks, monitor account balances, pay bills, and more. Furthermore, because Chase is a larger, established financial institution, account holders have access to a myriad of additional financial services and products, including savings accounts and lending services.
Now, here comes the catch: if you’re trying to avoid bank fees, the Chase Business Complete Banking® account may not be the ideal fit, as this account comes with a $15 monthly fee. Fortunately, the fee can be waived easily, if account holders meet certain criteria.
- Physical bank access – Unlike the aforementioned banking solutions, Chase has more than 4,700 branches and offers access to more than 16,000 ATMs, so this account is an excellent option for those who prefer a brick-and-mortar financial institution.
- Access to additional banking services – For account holders who want access to additional financial services and products — such as savings accounts, retirement, small business loans, and more — Chase has got you covered.
- Makes it easy to accept credit card payments – Chase’s integrating payment processing makes accepting credit card payments easier than ever.
- Monthly service fee if you don’t meet certain criteria – Unfortunately, the Chase Business Complete Banking® account does charge a monthly maintenance fee of $15. However, account holders can waive the fee by meeting one of the following each statement period:
- Maintain a minimum daily balance of $2,000;
- Make $2,000 in net purchases on your Chase Ink® Business Card;
- Complete $2,000 in deposits from QuickAccept℠ and/or eligible Chase Merchant Services transactions;
- Link a Chase Private Client Checking℠ account; or
- Provide proof of active military status.
- Monthly fees: None
- APY: 2.00% APY on balances up to $250,000 (see monthly eligibility requirements below)
- Minimum balance/deposit requirement: None
- Unique features:
- Unlimited fee-free transactions
- Receive a free debit Mastercard with your account
- Receive two free checkbooks annually
- Integrates with popular business tools like Stripe, Wave, PayPal, and more
- Access live customer service agents
- Line of credit available
- ATM transactions free at MoneyPass locations ($2.50 for non-network ATMs).
Bluevine is an online business checking account that caters to small businesses by eliminating the most common business checking fees.
Though Bluevine has only been around since 2013, they already have a strong track record of helping small business owners succeed, boasting a solid A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. With a Bluevine account, you can arrange one-time or recurring payments to vendors using ACH transfers, wire transfers, or checks.
You’ll also receive a free debit card when you open your account, as well as two free checkbooks each year.
- No fees – Bluevine waives several common business checking account fees, including the monthly maintenance fee, transaction fees, incoming wire fees ($15 for outgoing wire fees), and ATM fees (at MoneyPass locations).
- Earn 2.00% APY – Account holders with balances up to $250,000 can earn 2.00% APY, so long as they meet one of two conditions:
- Spend $500 per month with their Bluevine Business Debit Mastercard®, which can be used everywhere Mastercard® is accepted; or
- Receive $2,500 per month in customer payments into their Bluevine Business Checking account via ACH, wire transfer, mobile check deposit, or directly from their merchant payment processing provider
- Fee for cash deposits – Unlike Novo, Bluevine allows for cash deposits. Unfortunately, you’ll pay a $4.95 fee to do so and only at participating Green Dot locations. Additionally, cash deposits are capped at $500 per deposit and $2,000 per day.
- No physical location – Bluevine operates exclusively online, so those who prefer to visit a local banking institution should choose an alternative.
» MORE: Check out our Bluevine Review
- Monthly fees: $10
- APY: None
- Minimum deposit/balance requirement: $50 minimum deposit requirement and no minimum balance requirement
- Unique features:
- Use NorthOne Envelopes (sub-accounts) to automatically budget your money and expenses
- Integrate your Quickbooks, Stripe, Square, Paypal, etc.
- Unlimited, fee-free transactions
- Withdraw cash fee-free from any ATM with Cirrus®, MasterCard®, Maestro® and MoneyPass® acceptance marks
- Mobile check deposit
The NorthOne account offers unlimited mobile transactions for one flat $10 monthly fee. In addition to unlimited funds transfers and payments, you can also manage your money and send invoices. You can do everything on the mobile or web app, so you can bank whether you’re sitting on your sofa or hanging out by the pool on a tropical island.
- Transparent fee structure
- Easy mobile experience
- Easy to set money aside
- No third-party ATM rebates
The NorthOne account gives you a competitive business checking account with an impressive online mobile and web app.
With a NorthOne account , you can make deposits and move cash for free, send ACH or wire payments from your phone/computer, and withdraw cash for free from more than two million Cirrus ATMs across the globe (no ATM deposits available). However, the primary reason NorthOne made our list is because they provide users with a convenient means of saving for common business expenses automatically through their Envelopes feature (sub-accounts).
If you’re okay paying $10 a month, with no option of waiving the monthly fee, NorthOne is going to cover your unlimited transactions and banking needs more so than banks that like to build in hidden costs. Otherwise, you might be better off with a basic checking account.
- Savings assistance – NorthOne Envelopes (sub-accounts) provide account holders with an easy means of saving for common business expenses, such as payroll and taxes.
- Customer support – NorthOne account holders gain access to a wide customer service network, with support available from local experts by live chat, phone, or email.
- Monthly fee – Unlike some aforementioned competitors, NorthOne does charge a $10 monthly maintenance fee for their account holders (covers ACH transactions and debit card payments), and there is no option to waive the fee. Outside of this fee, NorthOne chargers $15 for incoming and outgoing wire transfers.
- Minimum deposit requirement – NorthOne requires a minimum deposit of $50 from its account holders.
- No physical location – NorthOne is another online-only banking solution, so those who prefer a local bank should consider an alternative like Chase Business Complete Banking®.
LendingClub Tailored Business Checking: Best for cash back
- Monthly fees: $10 (waived when you maintain an account balance of $500 or more)
- APY: 1.50% APY on balances up to $100,000 and 0.10% on the portion of your balance over $100,000
- Minimum deposit/balance requirement: $100 minimum opening deposit and no minimum balance requirement
- Unique features:
- Earn interest
- Earn cash back
- Free access to Autobooks, which offers small business banking tools like digital invoicing
- Remote deposit capture
- Unlimited, automatic ATM fee rebates
- Integrate with popular business tools like Mint and QuickBooks
- Mobile check deposit
- One-time and recurring BillPay
LendingClub Tailored Business Checking is specifically geared toward small business owners and individuals with side hustles. It provides account holders with an opportunity to not only earn interest, but also cash back.
With a LendingClub business checking account, you’ll earn 1.50% APY on balances up to $100,000 (plus 0.10% on anything above $100,000) as well as unlimited 1% cash back on qualified debit card purchases (after meeting some eligibility requirements).
As a business owner, you’ll also have access to a variety of convenient features, including a free Autobooks subscription for sending invoices and tracking payments, all for a low monthly fee of $10 per month (can be waived if you maintain an account balance of $500).
- Earn 1% unlimited cash back – Customers can earn unlimited 1% cash back on qualified debit card purchases after meeting eligibility requirements (maintain a monthly account balance of at least $2,500 and receive at least $2,500 in qualifying direct deposits).
- Earn interest – Account holders can earn 1.50% APY on balances up to $100,000, plus 0.10% APY on the portion of the balance that is $100,000 and greater.
- Autobooks membership – LendingClub Tailored Business Checking account holders receive free access to Autobooks, which provides small businesses owners with an easy means of sending invoices and receiving payments.
- Monthly fee – LendingClub does charge a monthly fee of $10, but it can be easily waived by maintaining an account balance of $500 or more.
- No physical location – LendingClub’s only physical branch, located in Boston, is a cashless branch. For customers interested in working with a local bank, LendingClub may not be the ideal fit.
» MORE: Read our full LendingClub Bank review
What to look for in a business checking account
When you see an advertisement for a “free” business checking account, most of the time it’s not entirely “free.” After all, for these banks to stay in business, they have to make money off of you somehow!
A top priority in our list was to include banks that offered competitive business checking accounts for freelancers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and growing businesses. Business checking accounts typically won’t provide account holders with an opportunity to earn interest and they’ll charge slightly higher fees, so our list focuses on those banks that keep their fees to a minimum and also highlights some that offer interest.
Even so, it’s important to always read the fine print before signing up for a new checking account. Here are the most important features to consider in a business checking account:
Balance and deposit requirements
Some banks charge a monthly fee if your business checking account’s balance falls below a certain threshold. It’s calculated on an average, by day, so as long as you’re maintaining a certain level of money in the account you should be fine. A bank may also require a minimum initial deposit, which may disqualify you from opening the account if you don’t have the money available.
On the flip side, some banks will actually reward you for having a high balance, much like they do with a personal checking or savings account (typically a higher interest rate). With business checking accounts, you may get a higher interest rate or even a reduction (or elimination) of some fees by carrying a large balance.
If you don’t see anything in the fine print about high-balance bonuses, then contact a service representative to see if they’re willing to give you a break if you agree to keep your balance above a certain amount.
Monthly maintenance fees
Monthly maintenance fees don’t exist with every business checking account. And those that do require a monthly fee may offer account holders an opportunity to waive the fee (typically by maintaining a minimum account balance). On average, these fees are typically $10-$15, but in some cases, they can jump as high as $50.
Before you sign up for a business checking account, confirm if there’s a monthly maintenance fee. If there is, see if there is an option to waive the fee by maintaining a minimum account balance or ask to have the fee waived.
Monthly transaction limits
With a business checking account, most banks will put a limit on the number of transactions you make every month. Seems kind of backward, doesn’t it? With a personal checking account, you’re often encouraged to make unlimited transactions, not limit them.
Limits placed on account transactions also don’t apply to just debit card charges. It usually includes things like deposits (both check and cash), withdrawals, checks written, and payments you make electronically.
Most banks will put a limit of up to 500 transactions, depending on the bank. On average, though, you typically won’t see a limit below 100 transactions per month. Expect the fees to be as high as 50 cents per transaction over the stated limit. That’s like a 25% surcharge on a $2.50 coffee.
It is possible to find unlimited transactions with a business account, but not easily. Some banks may offer an unlimited transactions option for a higher monthly fee, or you could find a bank that doesn’t have a limit on transactions at all. However, you’ll likely have to pay a higher monthly fee if you go that route. Alternatively, you could keep track of your transactions and stay below the allotted amount each month to avoid paying any monthly fee requirements.
What are the benefits of having a business checking account?
1. It keeps your personal and business finances separate
While technically (and legally), you can use a personal bank for your small business, it isn’t recommended.
That’s because mixing the two can make it difficult to track your income and expenses. And if you accidentally pay personal expenses from a business account, those expenses are subject to taxes and can convolute your books.
It’s best to have a separate, business-only bank account where you can do all of your business banking and ensure it’s kept separate from your personal finances.
2. It can help you manage your cash flow more effectively
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. If you can’t manage your cash flow effectively, your business will inevitably fail. That’s why finding the best business checking accounts is so important — so you can keep track of your incoming and outgoing cash. With these checking accounts, you can easily track your expenses and income, which can also help you get a loan for your business, if needed.
3. It can help you build business credit
One of the most important things you can do for your business is build credit. When you have good business credit, you’ll have a better chance of qualifying for a loan or line of credit should you ever need them. It can also help you get better terms on those loans.
One of the best ways to build business credit is to open a business bank account. When you have a business bank account, it shows that you’re a legitimate business and helps build your credit history. If you’re thinking about opening a checking account, make sure you choose a bank that reports to the major credit bureaus, so you can build your business credit history every time you make a deposit.
4. It can offer additional perks, such as rewards programs or interest-earning potential
The best business checking accounts will also often offer additional perks that can help your business. For example, some banks offer rewards programs that give you cash back or points for every purchase you make. Others may offer interest-bearing accounts, which can help you earn money on your deposited funds.
What do you need to open a small business checking account?
There are a few requirements you’ll need to open a business checking account, which may (or may not) include:
- A business license or incorporation documents – The business account will need to be opened in the name of your business. This is why it’s important to have your business license or incorporation documents handy.
- Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Your EIN is a nine-digit number that is assigned to a business, also known as a federal identification number.
- A government-issued ID – Your driver’s license will typically meet this requirement.
The bottom line
It shouldn’t matter if you’re an established small business or a brand new blog. If you have a business, you’re a business owner. As such, you should find one of the best business checking accounts on the market to keep your personal and professional finances separate.
Every business has different needs, and every bank account offers different services and features to meet those needs. Before you sign up for a business checking account, be sure to do your research. Look for details like fees and transaction limits. See if you can find an account that offers interest or cash back. Consider multiple options to make sure you find the account that best suits your business.